G.K. Beale has said, “Whatever your heart clings to or relies on for ultimate security is your object of worship.”
Most of my fellow churchgoers would not argue with this definition of worship. In fact, I have personally defined worship as anything that captures your attentions and affections.
What strikes me most though is the verb “clings” used by Beale. In my mind I can picture myself latching onto the thought of having a girlfriend in the 7th grade… I knew what I was worshiping.
I can vividly recall my almost sociopathic pursuit of great grades and accolades through high school… bowing low at the altar of achievement.
There’s no denying the idolatry of my early 20s when, even in ministry, I was worried about
who I knew and who knew me… in the cult of personality.
I could go on and on, but the examples from the latter half of my life are still a bit too fresh. Actually they’re still open wounds.
I think the reason the first commandment is to have no other gods before Him and the second is to have no idols or graven images is obvious. Humans have a horrible tendency to replace God with anything convenient.
Again, Beale’s definition screams out at me with that word “cling.”
Let me paint a picture of the mental visual this quote created in my mind and see if you don’t have the same concerns.
I can imagine myself praying passionately, continually and powerfully to a holy God for something as noble and pure as the health of my children. But, moving past the veneer of my prayer I realized that the purpose powering my prayer is not my zeal for God. In fact my prayer is fueled by my idolatry… my family.
I turned to God not because He is what I worship, but because I hope He can help protect what I am worshiping. I often get caught in cycles of pseudo-spirituality where I am praying to God and feeling like I’m where I should be, but all the while I’m just trying to use God to further my agenda, protect my interests, and serve my idolatrous lord.
I know these are pretty tough words, but if this happens in our lives it’s a sin that needs to be rooted out viciously.
Don’t get me wrong, we should be people of prayer taking every concern to Him.
Praying for your family. Praying for health. Praying for blessing. But, when my purpose and focus is anything other than Him and His glory, I am simply trying to use God for my own purposes.
Again, we should pray for our children, for health, for blessing, for any and everything. Simultaneously though, we must continue to monitor what we are truly “clinging” to, and make sure that it is God alone on the throne.
Maybe this is a spiritual heat check for you, or maybe it’s just confession for me. Either way, may God be what He deserves to be in both your life and mine: Lord of all.
5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,1 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)